Number of new cancer cases expected to reach 150,000 by 2020

The number of new cancer cases diagnosed in Australia each year is predicted to rise by almost 40% from 2007, mainly due to the ageing of the population and growth in population numbers, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Cancer incidence projections, Australia 2011 to 2020, examines trends to 2007 to estimate the number and rate of new cases (incidence) in Australia to 2020. The report provides a useful insight into what might reasonably be expected in the future and is of particular value for health service planning purposes.

It is important to note that projections are not exact forecasts, but give an indication of what might be expected and are dependent on current assumptions remaining valid into the future.

The total number of new cancer cases diagnosed each year is projected to rise from an expected 118,000 in 2011 to about 150,000 in 2020.

‘This increase is expected to be most evident in older people as the Australian population ages and increases,’ said AIHW spokesperson Ms Chris Sturrock.

While the total number of cases is predicted to rise for males, the cancer incidence rate (new cases per 100,000 population per year) in males is predicted to fall.

‘Among males, cancer incidence is highly influenced by prostate cancer, which accounts for about 30% of all cases,’ Ms Sturrock said.

‘Early detection of prostate cancer and changes in diagnostic procedures have contributed to sharp increases in the incidence rate of prostate cancer in recent decades.

‘We expect that prostate cancer incidence will stabilise in the future, leading to an overall fall in cancer incidence rates in males from 595 to 568 cases per 100,000 between 2007 and 2020.

‘Prostate cancer is expected to remain the most common cancer diagnosed in males in 2020, followed by bowel cancer, melanoma of the skin and lung cancer.’

Increases are expected in rates of melanoma as well as liver, thyroid and testicular cancer, while rates of lung, stomach and pancreatic cancer for males are projected to fall.

‘For females we expect that breast cancer will continue to be the most common cancer diagnosed in 2020, followed by bowel cancer, melanoma and lung cancer,’ Ms Sturrock said.

Among females, the overall cancer incidence rate is projected to rise from 394 to about 408 cases per 100,000 between 2007 and 2020.

Increases are expected in rates of melanoma, lung, liver and thyroid cancer for females, while rates of stomach cancer are expected to fall.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 9 March 2012

Further information: Ms Chris Sturrock, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1118, mob. 0407 915 851